For those wondering how Arts & Sciences' softball team would celebrate if it ever won a district tournament championship, it was revealed Friday afternoon at Warner Park: The players and coaches had a water-balloon fight.
The Lady Patriots fielded a high school varsity softball team for the first time in the 1995-96 school year but never had won a championship until Friday's 5-2 District 5-A victory over Silverdale Baptist Academy.
CSAS (21-10-1) will host Marion County on Monday at Warner Park at 6 p.m. in a Region 3 semifinal. Silverdale (22-11) will play at District 6 champion Whitwell at 7 EDT.
All seven seniors on the Lady Patriots roster are starters. Last year they were on the first CSAS softball team to win a district regular-season crown, but back-to-back losses to Grace Academy in the tournament finals denied the group the hardware that goes with being tournament champions.
Again the Lady Patriots lost in the first game of the final, but this time they came back and won, and the water-balloon throwing began. Second-year head coach Kaity Holloway and her assistant, Samantha Everett, may have gotten the worst end of that.
"As coaches, we wanted these girls to be able win something they've never won," Holloway said. "It's a great feeling."
Senior third baseman and cleanup batter Jamani Greer was the catalyst offensively for CSAS.
"It feels great," Greer said. "This is something we'll carry with us the rest of our lives."
Things started well for the Lady Seahawks. Their most notable player in the tournament, Madi Hancock, homered and drew a bases-loaded walk for the second consecutive game, and that had them up 2-0 headed to the bottom of the third inning.
But Greer made her presence felt after Victorious Blanton reached on a two-out infield single and Kiara Suttles walked. Her blast over the center-field fence turned things around.
"I knew there were two runners out there," Greer said. "I was just thinking, 'I have to get a base hit and score at least one.' I made contact with it, and it just went."
Silverdale managed eight runners on base over the last four innings -- four reaching scoring position. But winning pitcher Brianna Taylor stranded seven of them and erased the other on a line-drive double play.
SBA leadoff batter Allison Meadows went 3-for-4 with a triple but failed to score.
"We didn't get any key hits," Silverdale coach Tim Couch said. "Part of that is that Brianna's a great pitcher. She's not going to give you too much to hit. Two runs wasn't enough today.
"I didn't think we played that bad. The home run, obviously that hurt. Our goal was to win the district-tournament championship. When you don't achieve something, it's disappointing. But me and my two coaches and some of these girls on this team, we've been through this in this sport before. Our season's not over. Our job now is to win and advance."
Holloway emphasized the importance of the defense playing with no errors after making seven Thursday. CSAS and Silverdale were co-champions of the regular season and were 2-2 against each other before Friday's game, with the Lady Patriots having a 24-23 edge in runs scored.
"That's the fifth time we've seen them, and she's pitched all five games," Holloway said of Taylor, another of the seniors. "To throw all 35 innings and have it come down to the last game and hold them to two runs, that shows she was executing. She did a great job of hitting her spots."
Senior Brittany Patmon doubled twice for CSAS -- the second coming after Greer doubled with one out in the fifth. Taylor's sacrifice fly to right in the fourth drove in senior Mercedes Benn, who had doubled and advanced on Bri'Ana Parker's single.
Hancock and Taylor Moran were each 2-for-3 for the Lady Seahawks.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.